Cruciferous & Color: 10 Vegetable Superfoods

When considering which vegetables to eat, I have adopted the phrase “Cruciferous and colorful.” Cruciferous is another name for the vegetables belonging to the cabbage or mustard family. They are especially high in Vitamins K a natural anti-inflammatory, Vitamin A that eliminates free-radicals, more popular Vitamins B6 & C, folate which keeps the heart healthy, fiber and disease (especially Cancer) fighting phytochemicals. Kale, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are just a few examples of these super-vegetables.

Kale is super for it’s high percentages of Vitamins K, A, & C, as well as manganese and fiber.  Manganese helps keeps the body’s systems balanced and bones strong and healthy.

Kale Salad Recipe:

Trim raw Kale, massage in olive oil, mix in sliced cucumbers and halved cherry tomatoes

Broccoli is higher in Vitamins A and C than Kale and has very good levels of Vitamin B6 and potassium.

Brussel Sprouts have more glucosinolates than the other cruciferous vegetables. These enhance their disease fighting ability, through a complicated chemical detoxification. They also contain Omega-3s.

 Brussel Sprouts Recipe:

1- 1.5 lb Brussel Sprouts (Trimmed, Quartered)

6* slices of Bacon

1 Medium Shallot, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon lemon juice, squeezed

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup Golden Raisins

Begin with the bacon (must use self-control when you have ready-to-eat bacon nearby while you cook the rest of the meal; I fried an extra piece* or two because I knew I would fall short). Set the crispy bacon aside and throw the finely chopped shallots into the bacon-greased skillet. With the stove on a low – medium heat, carefully place the quartered brussel sprouts onto the skillet to let one of the flat open faces brown. While they cook, break your bacon up (eat one of the extra pieces*) into small pieces. With one side browned, turn your sprouts over onto the other flat surface and let them simmer for just a minute. Remove these sprouts and place them in a separate bowl. If you have more sprouts to cook: Use the rest of your shallots; place the rest of the sprouts. In a separate pot, brown the butter. Add the browned butter to the lemon juice and mix with a pinch of salt. Once second batch is finished, place all brussel sprouts in the pot used to brown the butter. Add raisins, bacon, salt & pepper, and the lemon/butter vinaigrette. Simmering for a minute or two will allow the new ingredients to cook into the mix.

Cauliflower rounds out my cruciferous choices and adds Vitamin B5 to the rest of the ever-present nutrients its super-family. Lately, I have become increasingly excited about this vegetable, especially in the mashed varietal.

Color, the second part of my motto, comes from two sources. Registered Dietician and Nutritionist at Life Time Fitness, Melanie Reyes says, “[When eating healthy] think about the rainbow… the more colors present in the vegetables you are eating, the more variety in nutrients.” The second source of the drive for color in my diet comes from ‘mothers everywhere’ – “A colorful plate is a healthy plate.” As we age and grow wiser we are learn that our mothers were right when they told us to eat our veggies. Additionally, if you are to cook them, I recommend only lightly steaming them to retain their nutrients.

Beets, a colorful cancer fighter, also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Spinach, a leafy-green that needs no introduction, is chalk full of essentially every essential.

Bell Peppers, red or yellow or orange – enhance your palate while coloring your plate. These feature 30 different carotenoids, heart healthy nutrients like lycopene and folic acid.

Sweet Potatoes, Vitamins A, C & B6 just like the cruciferous bunch, but also include beta-carotene and can be prepared in a number of ways.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes:

Wash then boil till easily pierced with a fork – Allow to cool – Slice long ways

Mix ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon paprika (or blend incl. paprika), 1-teaspoon salt,

Add ¼ cup olive oil to dry ingredients – mix again

Brush on & Grill (till quality indentations on each side)

Squash, though I particularly prefer the summer Squash, other nutrient-packed varieties can be found throughout the year.

Eggplant receives its deep purple color from its nasunin, which protects it from the environmental damage. Similarly this antioxident and phytonutrient provides protection for our brain and nervous system.

When planning your next meal, think cruciferous and color – it will make your body stronger, healthier and happier. It may make mom happy too.

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Eggplant parmesan meets chicken mozzarella meets pepperoni pizza!!

After successfully preparing this meal for Lindsey, my parents in Hot Springs Village requested it as well. Since then, I have passed on the recipe to close to a dozen other people. With that much word-of-mouth interest I thought it was fine time to post on the blog.

Lindsey found the recipe at Paleo Pot and asked me to prepare it while she was at work. Since it was a crock-pot dish, I saw no harm in taking a little time away from my writing, etc. to throw it all in the pot. We had purchased everything we needed for the dish and I was ready to get cooking. *When choosing an eggplant, pick one that is firm and heavy for its size. I will list (re-list) the recipe even though it was initially on Paleo Pot but make some changes I found to be helpful, while also giving Jason his due credit. Note: the eggplant will take some prep time: 60 minutes soaking in water & 30 minutes drying; prior to placing in crockpot.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1.5 pounds), sliced about 1/4 thick, soaked and dried.
  • 1 pound of thinly sliced chicken breast, pounded flat with a meat mallet.
  • 3 cups of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce.
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning.
  • 1/2 pound of thinly sliced pepperoni.
  • 1 cup of black olives, sliced.
  • 1/2 cup to a cup of Parmesan cheese, grated.
  • 1/2 cup to a cup of Mozzarella cheese, grated.
  • sea salt as needed.
  • Italian parsley for garnish.

Directions:

  • Wash – slice – soak eggplant for 60 Minutes
  • Strain eggplant – sprinkle with sea salt – allow to dry for 30 minutes in between paper towels. While they dried, I prepared other ingredients.
  • Add olive oil and tomato sauce to pot… enough to coat the bottom.
  • Tenderize your chicken with a mallet – I massaged mine – ideally similar thickness to the eggplant.
  • **Add in your garlic and a dash of the seasoning. (** = This is not mentioned in the Paleo Pot version.)
  • Layer in other ingredients: (on top of sauce already in the pot) eggplant – parmesan – chicken – sauce – mozzarella – olives – pepperoni – more cheese **I used a little of both cheeses where it asks for “more cheese”.
  • **Sprinkle in some Italian seasonings every now and then.
  • Repeat until the ingredients are used up.
  • **Cook on low for 5 hours (I preferred this to the high for 3 hours)
  • Once finished, remove ceramic crock – set aside with lid cracked – let cool.
  • Remove with a pair of spatulas.

I wish I was blogging about this immediately after cooking it so I could have included my own pictures but Jason’s post on Paleo Pot has some good ones. Special thanks to him for blogging about this in June, so that I could enjoy it this summer; now you can enjoy it too.

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I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten brussel sprouts. One of my new favorite places to eat, drink and be merry is Salty Sow (stop reading and go there now if you can). They serve a side that includes brussel sprouts (perfectly crispy), golden raisins and pecorino. The delicious dish inspired me to give them a go on my own. Since I had been trying the Paleo thing, I decided to start there and found this:

Mark’s Daily Apple

For good measure, I researched a little more till I found one including the golden raisins:

BON APPÉTIT

Using these as my guides, I jumped on my bike and headed to Whole Foods. Of course, quantities will vary based on your needs but I used the following:

1- 1.5 lb Brussel Sprouts (Trimmed, Quartered)

6* slices of Bacon

1 Medium Shallot, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup Golden Raisins

Begin with the bacon (must use self-control when you have ready-to-eat bacon nearby while you cook the rest of the meal; I fried an extra piece* or two because I knew I would fall short)

Set the crispy bacon aside and throw the finely chopped shallots into the bacon-greased skillet.

With the stove on a low – medium heat, carefully place the quartered brussel sprouts onto the skillet to let one of the flat open faces brown.

While they cook, break your bacon up (eat one of the extra pieces*) into small pieces.

With one side browned, turn your sprouts over onto the other flat surface and let them simmer for just a minute. Remove these sprouts and place them in a separate bowl.

If you have more sprouts to cook: Use the rest of your shallots; place the rest of the sprouts.

In a separate pot, brown the butter. Add the browned butter to the lemon juice and mix with a pinch of salt.

Once second batch is finished, place all brussel sprouts in the pot used to brown the butter. Add raisins, bacon, salt & pepper, and the lemon/butter vinaigrette. Simmering for a minute or two will allow the new ingredients to cook into the mix.

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I served this with pan-fried pork chops. (To prep: place thin, center-cut chops in Ziploc filled with almond flour, garlic salt and seasoning salt)

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For the past year I have consistently, increasingly become a better eater. This means eating on a regular basis and adding vegetables to those meals. I have also cut down on processed foods and sugars. With such a life adjustment comes the need to actually cook some of my own meals. For those that knew me even two years ago – my cooking vegetables is more of a feat than dozen marathons I’ve run. A couple times a month, this blog will feature these feast feats.

Because this particular dish was recently requested, I decided to trace it back to its roots. Back in August, Lindsey wanted me to cook her dinner. I immediately knew I would grill her a rib eye, but wasn’t quite sure what my sides would be. Typically, I would grill my vegetables too and most of the time they would be zucchini and squash. I still wanted to grill but wanted something new, wanted a wow factor. I then look around online for other ideas and came across sweet potatoes. A couple different recipes appealed to me and I took what I liked from each and came up with this:

Wash sweet potatoes

Boil till easily pierced with a fork

Allow them to cool

Slice long ways

Mix:

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon paprika (or blend incl. paprika)

1 teaspoon salt

mix dry ingredients together then add

¼ cup olive oil – mix again

Brush on

Grill (till quality indentations on each side)

Delicious to me, quite a hit with Lindsey and has even been requested by others since.

Happy Eating!

Special Edition: Thanksgiving

Family, friends, food and football. Although, this year I was able to enjoy more food than football and more friends than family, I found this Thanksgiving to be one of my best ever. My Thanksgiving began with Lindsey on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving. We made quite the Paleo feast. For those that don’t know: Paleo is essentially eating like the cavemen; lots of meat and vegetables and no dairy or grain or refined foods.

Sunday morning, I whipped up some Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes. http://www.runningtothekitchen.com/2012/10/pumpkin-paleo-pancakes-that-actually-taste-good/

I’ll admit that I was nervous making non-traditional pancakes and to add to it was doing a pumpkin version. Ambitious, as my friend Haley called it. They turned out to be delicious. We sided them with bacon and topped them with Canadian maple syrup.

After breakfast, we put a turkey breast into the Crockpot. http://www.food.com/recipe/simple-crock-pot-turkey-breast-279220

Lindsey chose this method for a number of reasons: 1) it would just be the two of us 2) she LOVES her Crockpot 3 & most importantly) “[she] would most likely F up a turkey in the oven.” – her words not mine J

This would take some time but it was nice to be able to let it alone to cook while we enjoyed our day. Crockpot’s are nice that way; I imagine this one in particular gets quite a bit of play for that very reason.

http://paleomg.com/paleo-thanksgiving-stuffing

The stuffing was clear evidence that is one of the better Paleo food blogs.  It could have even served as meal on its own. Helping me with the leftovers, ne of my roommates, Jeff, even placed it on a turkey sandwich.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Honey-Glazed-Roasted-Carrots-and-Parsnips-233404

My first time to eat parsnips, but definitely not my last. My only regret here is that we didn’t make more of them.

And finally…  http://www.primal-palate.com/2010/11/bills-chiffon-pumpkin-pie.html

I continued to eat leftovers from this meal up until Thursday, actual Thanksgiving. I spent that day with my sister Jessica and her family. We fried that turkey and I was able to devour some traditional stuffing and pumpkin pie. In comparison, the Paleo feast won out.